Yesterday an English friend and I threw a baby shower for a mutual friend. The way it turned out though was that no others from our circle of friends were able to make it. Only the guest of honor's friends, who we'd never met before, were able to come. So, everyone arrives whilst my little Ian is sleeping in his car seat in a distant corner of the room. While we were all making introductions and making small talk Ian would periodically stir. He would lift an arm or a leg and let out those cute noises he makes. The guests would make comments like, "oh, how sweet", or "I love it when babies make those darling noises". All the while I respond with slightly uncomfortable smiles and nods, knowing that when Ian finally does wake up and joins us, the ladies are going to have a situation they weren't expecting; My son has Down syndrome.
Ian finally wakes and I bring him to the circle of "friends". As I set him on my lap I say to the ladies "This is Ian", but I do not look in their eyes to see the reaction they have to his not being a "typical" child. I love my son beyond words, but I am SO ashamed to say that I am also very uncomfortable making this introduction. The ladies say "hi Ian". Absent of course were the freely expressed "Oh how cute" when a new baby is brought into a room. I think I may have heard a strained "how sweet" above the din of thoughts rushing through my head. Conversation starts up again about other subjects.
I've heard about our kids with Ds doing inappropriate things in social situations, but I thought that wasn't something I was going to need to deal with until a year or so down the road. Surprise! Yesterday was the day it began. Ian has this noise that he makes when he is uncomfortable in some way. It is kind of a grunt mixed with a squeal. It is not the most pleasant sound. So, yesterday, for whatever reason, he really went for it. It seemed like his grunt/squeal was three times as loud as normal, or did it just seem that way because I was so uncomfortable with the situation? He did his "thing" and the room immediately fell silent. I made some off-handed comment like "oh my! What's up, buddy?" while dying a thousand deaths inside.
During the baby shower there were no desperate pleas to hold my baby like there would have been had Ian been a "typical" baby and there was no peppering me with questions about what Ian is up to. That's hard to take because in our eyes he is SO sweet and SO fun and SO precious, that it's difficult when people have a hard time seeing past his challenges to "see" him.